Financial Regulatory Forum

UK government banker quits key role in RBS, Lloyds stake sale

By Reuters Staff
January 11, 2010

By Steve Slater and Douwe Miedema

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) – The banker tasked with selling Britain’s stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds quit in a surprise move on Monday, a potential blow to the government’s hopes of turning a profit on the holdings.

UK Financial Investments, the body that holds Britain’s stakes in the two part-nationalised banks and nationalised Northern Rock, said John Crompton had resigned as head of market investments.

Crompton did not leave as the result of any internal conflict and he will return to the private sector, two people familiar with the matter said. His exit comes after he failed to get the job of chief executive vacated by John Kingman in November.

“We are obviously sad that John has decided to leave but fully understand his decision to develop his career elsewhere as UKFI moves into a new phase of its development,” said Robin Budenberg, who replaced Kingman.

UKFI gave no further reason for his exit.

He joined UKFI in December 2008 and has had overall responsibility for its engagement with RBS and Lloyds Banking Group during its first year. He previously worked for Morgan Stanley for 20 years and Merrill Lynch for two years, responsible for equity new issue business.

UKFI said Budenberg would temporarily take on the main responsibility for market investments. Tim Sykes, its senior bank analysts, has been given responsibility for the monitoring of financial performance and strategy.

Crompton is expected to stay at UKFI for a handover period. He would have to spend a period of months on so-called gardening leave if he were to join a bank.

Kingman said just before he left that UKFI was “walking a tightrope” in attempting to limit bonus payouts while trying to stop talented staff leaving the banks it had a stake in.

 

TAXPAYERS’ BILLIONS AT STAKE

The British government had not set a timetable or revenue targets for the sale of its multi-billion pound stakes in banks, reducing the risk of a sell-off that does not offer best value for the taxpayer, Crompton said late last year.

UKFI is expected to sell down its holdings over several years through a string of transactions, depending on investor appetite and the value of the shares.

The body has not ruled out innovative use of capital markets, and Crompton’s experience was seen as a key asset.

“We will need to innovate, to be imaginative in our approach and to use the full range of sales methods available to us,” he said in a speech in September.

Britain owns 84 percent of RBS and 43 percent of Lloyds after a series of rescue packages.

(Additional reporting by Victoria Howley; Editing by Dan Lalor, Erica Billingham and Karen Foster)

((steve.slater@reuters.com; +44 207 542 4367; Reuters Messaging: steve.slater.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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